Wanted: New ways to communicate about global poverty

Take a moment and think about how you most often hear development work portrayed in the public discourse? Two divergent narratives come to my mind.

First, international aid is unashamedly tied to foreign policy objectives, money is wasted, and day-to-day aid work is challenging, if not futile. The narrative goes something like this: So-and-so country is poor or vulnerable. Rich countries try to help them. So-and-so is still poor and vulnerable.

On the other hand, according to many NGOs and international agencies, our day-to-day work in the development sector is instantly transformative, not to mention selfless. The narrative goes something like this: So-and-so person is poor or vulnerable. We [the organization] helps so-and-so. So-and-so is not poor anymore.

That’s a pretty polarizing view of anti-poverty and development work – all good or all bad. People working on the ground know that neither is an accurate picture of reality. And this reality is harder and harder for communications staff and the media to ignore.

Illustration from "The Barefoot Guide To Working With Organisations And Social Change" www.barefootguide.org
Illustration from "The Barefoot Guide To Working With Organisations And Social Change" www.barefootguide.org

Blogging and Your Place under the Baobab

On September 17th I will kick off a three-part webinar series for Kabissa: Engaging Blogging for African Civil Society.

In Africa (so I've learned) kings, elders, and leaders would hold meetings under baobabs to discuss important matters. So when I created a graphic for webinar series on blogging, I chose the baobab as a symbol.

In my career I have lived in Africa and have worked in several African countries, and I have worked with many African organizations.

However, the truth is that I have never participated in a meeting under a baobab tree. Whatever it is that those kings, elders, and leaders are discussing under those trees, they have never seen fit to invite me to these discussions.

Not pictured: me.


Why not? I'm sort of a smart guy. I know stuff.

The serious answer to the silly question is this: Nobody is going to ask me to share my wisdom under any tree unless I have been visibly engaged in a community over time demonstrating expertise, talent -- something of value to that community.

Blogging can be a valuable part of your communication strategy. Your organization does important work, doesn’t it? With blogging, you can reach and engage with the audiences who should know about the work that you do. Blogging can help to inform and remind people that you belong under the baobab tree, at the policy table, in the planning sessions, or in the implementation phase.

In the webinar series, we will talk about how to write and publish and disseminate effective content that will build audience and authority for your organization.

Regardless of the blogging platform you use, you can increase the impact of the posts you publish.

This series will cover writing, strategy, and some technical how-to. The lessons learned in the first two sessions will be applied when participants post on Blog Action Day, Oct 16 2014.

Blog Action Day is an opportunity to bring new readers to your blog, when bloggers around the world will publish on the topic of inequality.

The third session will cover evaluation the success of your blog following Blog Action Day, and going forward.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar >>

Click Here to Register for Blog Action Day >>


Baobab graphic © Nevit Dilmen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Baobab photo © ACEI Cheung [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Blog Action Day invites you to join Global Discussion about INEQUALITY on 16 October, 2014

Let's Talk about Inequality: Blog Action Day 2014Blog Action Day has been a fixture in the Kabissa calendar since 2008, and I am excited to see it is back again in 2014 with a compelling and timely theme - inequality.

As Karina Brisby from the Blog Action Day team writes in her post announcing the inequality theme:

Whether it is economic, racial, gender, disability, faith, sexuality, health, education, political, social status or age, inequality unfortunately seems to be on the rise, affecting more people and limiting the opportunities they have, in many different ways.

For Blog Action Day 2014, we want you to think about inequality and contribute to the global discussion on October 16, by writing blog posts, creating video or graphics, taking photos, sharing interesting stats and facts, or just commenting on other people’s posts.

You might want to cover how you, your friends, family or community have been directly affected by inequality, how an historic situation was overcome, or a current issues that needs addressing.

Kabissa is again a proud Blog Action Day supporting partner. We believe the blogging event provides a valuable opportunity for Kabissa members working in African Civil Society, especially those at the grassroots who might struggle to find channels for reaching out internationally to new supporters and partners.

We do hope you decide to participate. All you have to do is add your blog or social media profile to the Blog Action Day participants list, and on 16 October publish your blog article. and spread it using hashtags #blogaction14 and #inequality.

If you do not already have a blog you are most welcome to blog on Kabissa - all you have to do is ask.

And, even more importantly, if you want to learn to start blogging or brush up on your blogging skills, please join our Engaging African Blogging webinar series starting up in mid September. It's free, is specifically designed for African civil society bloggers, and comes with personalized mentoring from Ted Johnson, an experienced blogger and the latest addition to the Kabissa volunteer team.

Creating a Culture of Fear: Militarization of Elections as a New Form of Disenfranchisement

Is militarization additional hurdle to already entrenched barriers of culture and tradition which limits women's full and equal political participation? State of Osun gubernatorial election as case study. Result of research conducted by Steve Aborisade @Projekthope, August 2014.

Kabissa Roundtable event featured in official CiviCRM Newsletter

Thank you CiviCRM for featuring Kabissa in the CiviCRM Newsletter and in this blog post crossposted below from the CiviCRM case studies and user stories blog. Kabissa and CiviCRM go way back so we appreciate the honor!

This attention is also timely - we are keen to bring more CiviCRM wizards on board as volunteers so if anyone reading this has spare cycles or an interest to join a great and fun volunteer team longer term please contact me ASAP. The next project we are starting up right now is to upgrade our kabissa.org platform (both Drupal and CiviCRM) and also improve our setup by shifting as much of our custom workflows and functionality as possible to core... hopefully without breaking anything! We also are grappling with a database cleanup process at the moment which is a fun challenge for a CiviCRM savvy database wrangler. Erik has created some pretty nifty scripts to semi-automate the process of figuring out who is active and who needs to be contact to update their details, but there is still alot of manual work to do. Beyond that we would very much like to update our newsletter templates, donation forms, event registration forms, and more fully configure CiviCRM's advanced features including the newish CiviVisualize so we are better able to deliver on our mission to connect and empower African civil society organizations - and show our impact while we are at it. Good stuff. 

I was not aware that Friends of the Earth International is also using CiviCRM to raise funds for their important Ebola fighting efforts in Liberia. That is great to see and I really hope they are successful - the Ebola situation is really scary and I have friends and colleagues in affected countries that I worry about. 

CIVICUS, the other organization besides MSF South Africa that we featured in our roundtable about CiviCRM is actually a very interesting use case and I'm sorry it was not included in the newsletter after all - do take a look at the Kabissa forum post about the roundtable to learn about how CIVICUS uses CiviCRM to power their membership system which is rather sophisticated. They have "Associate" and "Voting" membership levels for both individuals and organizations, and provide signup forms for all of these levels directly on their website - getting this right is hard and they seem to have done so. 

Please note that the two stunning photos attributed to Kabissa in the newsletter are actually from Kabissa members. Mozambikes won the Kabissa photo competition (photo on Flickr) with that amazing photo of a cyclist in Mozambique transporting more coal one would think is possible. The Maasai Girls Education Fund is the source of the photo of the Maasai meeting, which they used among many other great photos in an update back in 2010.

Story of a lady bike rider and women development: Organizers should go to the roots

Every morning one lady bike rider passes me when my bus gets stuck in the jam on the way to my office. She goes ahead to her destination by driving her Scooty easily and naturally on the wide and narrow spaces on the road as like as a man. Every day when I see her I give her a salute and admire her courage because it is Bangladesh, a moderate Islamic country by the constitution, where a big part of the people do not support from their mind to let the women go out from home for working purposes and open their identity to other men.

Guide to the New Google Sheets (Google Drive)

Good morning everyone,

Online collaboration can be very rewarding when the right tools are in place.
Having coordinated the work of several teams for some years now, I was able to enjoy the added value of Google shared docs on several occasions. 
Very recently I felt limited in my work because I could not do multiple-cells selection in a Google spreadsheet. And then I just thought that most definitely someone else complained about it already and probably the feature is available, but I don't know the combination of keys. 

5th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AFPIF): 26-28 August 2014, Dakar

The 5th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AFPIF) will be held over a 3-day period in August 2014 in Dakar, Senegal to discuss the future of peering in an era where the cost of transit is declining. The event will also seek to discuss regional interconnection dynamics and content issues that are critical components of transit deficits.

Internet Society reports: The Serekunda Internet Exchange Point (IXP) launched in Banjul, The Gambia on 12 July 2014

I just came across a very interesting information that I wanted to share with you. 

"Gambia may be considered a small country (ranked 164th in the world) but in the Internet world, especially in Africa, it could be elevated much higher and place it among the emerging technology hubs of the region. 

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